Allowing for Some Reaction Time

November 17, 2011

Thanks so much for all of your words of support after yesterday’s news.  It really means a lot to me.

And it was also nice today that within 10 minutes of arriving to work, my three closest work-friends/confidants either IM’d me or stopped by to check in on me.

Today is disorienting.  I think Juliet is right about the realignment that is starting to take place.

Once, a few months ago, I mentioned to the girls that I wouldn’t be working at this BigFirm forever, and Mouse’s jaw dropped.  “What?!  You can’t get a different job!  You work at [BigFirm]!  It’s what you DO!”

So clearly, the entire family will need to do some realigning.*

It’s also interesting talking to a friend of mine who knows BigFirm’s name, and its reputation.  She’s not in the legal field and so isn’t familiar with the culture of large firms v. smaller firms v. in-house, etc.  She just knows that this firm has a national reputation, and that it pays a lot of money.  Therefore, isn’t it the pinnacle?  The be all and end all?  “Well, can’t you go to a small firm for a little while, and then go back to a big firm?”  It was interesting trying to convince her that I never really anticipated having my entire career here, and that leaving the BigFirm world is not a bad thing for my professional development.

The money is the hardest part, I think.  Working  for a top law firm comes with top dollars.  Despite all of the advice I got during law school to beware the golden handcuffs – we liked having a comfortable income.  That comfortable income is the reason why I sat here at my desk while my peers (either single or married to a second professional) went and found other jobs.  It was very hard to take steps that would result in a pay cut on purpose.

Now it’s being forced, and the transition to thinking about making 75% (or likely less) of what I’m making now is slowly taking place.

WD hasn’t been working for pay since I started here.  He went to school for his MFA, and since then has been focusing on his writing, acting as a graduate assistant at his school, and generally running the house.  In the past year, the girls have really shifted in their need for after-school supervision . . . they’re never home.  Lemon’s at crew until 6 or 6:30, Mouse is at play or at soccer practice until 5:45 or sometimes even 7 or so.

So, he will be looking for a job now, too.  Which means my lower pay will be a bit less of a sting.

I have a lunch set up with a partner at a smaller firm, one that I worked at in law school, for the week after thanksgiving.  It’s been in place for  while.  I ran into her on the train in early October, and she remembered me and we talked a bit about my career and what I will do when it’s time to move on.

She made several overt comments about me working at her firm again.

We had a nice talk, but my stop came before we were done, so she suggested I email.  I sat on that for a bit – still clinging to my larger salary.  But I did email her, and she responded very quickly suggesting we have lunch.  I again sat on it for a bit.  Not feeling ready.  But then the rumors started flying, and I confirmed the rumors with my “inside contacts,” and I emailed her to set up the lunch.  By the end of the day, the lunch was set.  And the emails haven’t stopped.

I don’t know that anything will come of this.  But the firm is not a bad fit (although my commute would be pooey again), and I think I’d have a much more active role in trials and hearings.  I’m not sure if they’d let me continue with my pro bono projects, which have been important to me, but reality is reality.

Even if it does end up this is nothing, it has been very helpful to have something in the back of my mind as an option while all of this is going on.  There are other potential opportunities here and there that my personal network make real possibilities.  This did ease the sting. It does allow for optimism instead of panic.

And so, here I am.  Sitting in my office which feels like home, knowing it won’t be the case for tons longer. And I’m okay with that.


* Although we did not tell the girls that I was laid off yesterday.  Our plan at this time is to tell them that I’m going to be looking for a new job, and that WD will also be going back to work.  We have until March 1st, and if it does turn out that I can make a seamless transition, there is really no need to create anxiety in their minds.


One comment

  1. I’m so glad you have so much time to focus on your job search and figure out what’s next. Hopefully, this whole process will be relatively painless and you’ll really like wherever you land next.

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